N.W.T. gov't sounds out feds on military help with fires
$36 million spent so far this year on fighting wildfires, says ENR minister
The Northwest Territories government is sounding out federal officials about military help with fighting wildfires in the territory.
Michael Miltenberger, the minister of Environment and Natural Resources, says the growing number of fires in Alberta and British Columbia are putting a strain on resources that are available from other provinces and territories.
He says Northwest Territories residents should be proud of what firefighters have done, but the crews have been working non-stop for six weeks, are taxed to the limit and may need additional help.
"We're making preliminary inquiries just in case. We're going to see what the status is going forward," Miltenberger said.
"Hopefully it doesn't come to that but we want to leave no stone unturned when it comes to making sure we have resources to do the job necessary."
Miltenberger says there's precedent for the military helping in crises such as flood situations. He also says the community of Kakisa may be eligible for federal money because it had to be evacuated.
N.W.T. borrowing money to finance firefighting costs
This forest fire season has cost the territory $36 million so far, and that cost is expected to rise.
Miltenberger says the government is borrowing the money now and will spend whatever it takes to keep the fires under control and communities safe.
"We're northerners," he said. "There's some people that whine and complain but the majority of northerners are sucking it up and carrying on and we're going to work our way through this."
Miltenberger says there is room in the territorial government's borrowing limit with the federal government for situations like this.
He said there are no plans to cut programs at this time.